NEWS

Economy causing stress

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis spent his second consecutive weekend trying to convince people in the provinces that the 28-billion-euro support package for banks would benefit the real economy, as a new poll indicated that eight in 10 Greeks believe that the global crisis will affect them or those close to them. Karamanlis was in Volos, central Greece, on Saturday as he continued his effort to improve his government’s image, which has suffered after a series of scandals and an apparent inability to get to grips with the financial crisis. After seeing the ruling conservative’s proposal for the bank support scheme pass through Parliament last week, Karamanlis attempted to assure voters that they too would enjoy the benefits of the 28-billion euro deal. «We are not giving gifts to anyone,» he said. «We are not spending even one euro from the budget and taxpayers are not being burdened. In fact, this will benefit citizens. «The plan means benefits for depositors and benefits for the small- and medium-sized business owner who needs capital.» New Democracy also unveiled on Friday an ambitious 2009 budget, which forecasts that growth will slow to 2.7 percent while the public deficit will be kept at 2.5 percent of GDP. However, a survey conducted by the Athens University of Economics and Business indicates that Karamanlis and his party have plenty of work to do if they are to allay voters’ fears. A quarter of 1,300 people questioned said that they are very concerned they will feel the impact of the crisis, 37.7 percent feel a considerable amount of concern and 20.8 percent are «fairly» concerned. Three in four respondents also said that their financial situation is the cause of some level of stress in their lives. Two other opinion polls out this weekend are likely to cause stress to the government. A survey by VPRC for Sunday’s Eleftherotypia gave a 4.5 percent lead to PASOK over ND, while a poll by Focus for Real News indicated that the Socialists are in front by 3.7 percent.